Insight With Beth Ruyak

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McGeorge School Professor Breaks Down Conflicting Propositions On Your November Ballot

A drop-off ballot box in San Mateo County.


Rival California ballot measures on the death penalty and grocery bags could end up in court if voters approve conflicting measures.

Proposition 67 asks voters whether to uphold a California state law banning single-use plastic bags. Proposition 65 would send paper and reusable bag fee revenue to environmental programs, rather than letting grocery and retail stores hang onto the money.

In theory, says Mary-Beth Moylan from McGeorge School of Law, the two measures could co-exist if they both win voter approval. But...

“The trick is that the Proposition 65 drafters were a little bit crafty. And they put a conflicting measures provision into their initiative,” says Moylan.  

So if both measures pass, a court would likely need to decide if the two would work together – or if only the one that wins the most votes would take effect.

Another potential conflict involves Proposition 62, which would abolish California’s notoriously slow death penalty system … and Proposition 66, which would expedite it.

Moylan says Proposition 62 only eliminates capital punishment for first-degree murder.

“So it’s possible that if they both pass, a court could say death penalty sentences are abolished for first-degree murder, but that the procedures from Proposition 66 could be put in place for other death eligible crimes.” 

…which are more dated crimes like treason or train wrecking.

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